I've been spinning a little bit here in India and it got me thinking about creating a balanced ply. I've had pretty good success doing this on a spindle and I thought I'd share the method I like to use.

I like to think that my spindle has seen more sights than most.

Once you've spun your singles, you are ready to ply. I like to use the andean plying method but this works just as well from two center pull balls or from two ends of the same center pull ball.

Begin to ply your singles until you are ready to wind them onto the spindle.

Here's a two ply, but how do I know if it's balanced?

Holding both ends of the plied section in place, bring your two hands together and watch the way the yarn reacts. Pay close attention, you need to note which way the yarn twists, if it twist at all.

The yarn may twist around itself clockwise

Or it may twist counter-clockwise

If the yarn twists back on itself, you will need to drop your spindle and twist it in the SAME DIRECTION as the yarn twisted around itself.

This is the key. Note how many times it twisted back on itself and use that as a gauge for how much you will need to correct it. After attempting to correct the twist, do the same test again. Your goal is to have the yarn hang straight down, no matter how close you bring your hands together. The results should look like this.

It may take a little while, but with patience you will achieve this result.

After a couple of sections, you will begin to get a feel for just how long you need to let the spindle spin to get a balanced yarn. At that point, you will not need to check each section before winding on to the spindle. Instead, you can do spot checks occasionally as you ply the remaining yarn.

That little extra effort yields beautifully balanced yarn.

66 yards of perfectly plied A Type Pygora lace weight yarn.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to those of you who haven't been happy with your spindle plied yarn. And for those of you who are advanced spinners out there, feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.

Today is day 4 of my 14 day trip in India. Having just acclimated to the time change, I'll be switching shifts once again, working 4AM to noon for the remainder of the week. If I were a wise woman, I'd be getting settled to go to sleep right now. But you know, if I were well rested, I wouldn't find things like this so amusing.

I've seen a lot of variations of floor numbering, but this is the first time I've seen floors 0 and -1.

But we did manage to leave the hotel for a little shopping and sight seeing yesterday.

Maya and her daughter were great guides to our shopping adventure

Walking around is a nice change from being in the car all the time. It gives you a chance to catch those little moments that are too fleeting to capture while hurtling down a dirt road, weaving through pedestrians and livestock.

Awww, sleepy puppies

But I know my audience, here. You might like dogs but what you love is textiles. These pictures cannot even begin to express how much fabric was in this store. It was two stories, floor to ceiling, of every imaginable fabric.

I think Clasonda is experiencing sensory overload.

After wandering through all kinds of great stores and finally finding a place that sells yarn (though it was closed, poo!) we packed into the car and headed back towards the hotel

In Boston, we had "make way for ducklings" in India, it's "make way for cows"

The day was great and ended with a delicious Chinese dinner with Maya and her family.

Today was a half day of work because it's Sunday in the states and a national holiday in India. When the words "lunch" and "Thai food" were mentioned, I had my things packed up and was ready to go in no time.

So as we drove through town, visions of curry dancing in my head, the heavens opened up, Flashdance style.

That's the river we had to ford to make our way into the restaurant

Soaked but still in good spirits, we sat down for lunch. Yum!

Why not a little semi-open air dining during a veritable typhoon?

The rain let up before the end of lunch which gave me ample opportunity to take pictures like the tourist that I am.

Well, if I plan to be of any use when they pick me up for work at 3:30AM, I best be getting some sleep.

Pre-drafting stubborn fibers

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I miss El Matchador but I'm rekindling my love for my beautiful little spindles while I'm here in India.

I've noticed that there is a wave of knitters taking up spinning lately and so I have a couple of simple tutorials I plan to post while I'm here, to help the newbie. I'm sure these are "well duh!" items for most people but they have been useful for me so perhaps they will be useful to others.

Today's tutorial will be on pre-drafting fibers that are being a bit stubborn. If you don't know how to pre-draft yet, there are a couple videos here. The process involves separating your roving into strips then gently tugging the fibers, lengthwise, to loosen them up.

I'm spinning some pygora right now, on my 0.9 ounce Golding spindle. The pygora is prepared as a pencil roving, meaning you do not need to separate the roving into separate strips as it's already thin enough.

Pygora spins up beautifully when properly pre-drafted

However, this particular batch has some areas that are a wee bit hard to pre-draft. I think areas have matted ever so slightly in transport, making them impossible to pre-draft the normal way. The solution is as follows.

Break off a length of roving to your liking. I prefer a couple feet of roving, many other people prefer a shorter, more manageable length. Do what you like best.

Attempt to pre-draft as you normally would.

Excuse the awkward photo, I only have 2 hands and no tripod. Imagine I was trying to do that with both hands.

To loosen the fibers, begin stretching the roving side to sides. Gently part the fibers, starting at one end and working up the length of the roving.

When you hit the matted area, spend extra time carefully releasing the fibers. Remember, you don't want to break any of the fibers, just loosen them up.

When you have worked the entire length of the roving, you have something that looks a little like this.

I then like to tug the roving, very gently, lengthwise. This not only makes it a little easier to handle, but it allows you to pre-draft it a little more.

Again, this should really show me doing this with two hands.

When you are all done, you can wind it around your distaff (if you have one) or, as I prefer to do, make a little bracelet out of the fiber, by winding it around your hand.

The finished roving looks like this:

Now just spin spin spin.

Next tutorial will be on achieving a balanced two ply on your spindle.

Would that be H2O4?

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I left Mumbai after a breakfast of coffee and toast and hopped a small plane to Pune. This involved another trek through various security check points. Not the least of which was the "Ladies' Frisking Booth." How's that for a friendly how do you do?

It wasn't nearly as exciting as it sounds. It's more your standard issue wanding by security.

After a short wait we were all bussed to our plane in which they'd piped the smooth sounds of musak. La Bamba played as I entered and began again right before we disembarked. I guess they save money by keeping the music rotation just about as long as the flight and pass the savings on to the customer.

I landed, collected my things and headed to the hotel.

Ahh the hotel.
Remember the view from my Mumbai room? Here's how it looks in the day:

Pretty,huh?

Here's my new view:

But it's got internet access, a shower and a bed, which should pretty much cover my needs. They also have the most amusing bottled water I've seen yet.


I don't find their water any more oxygen-y than any other I've had the pleasure to try but I'm reassured to know that it's got 300% more than "source water under standard testing conditions." Heaven knows, our doctors are always telling us to drink more oxygen in our diet.

But the amusement of reading water bottle labels wears off quickly which is where the internet access comes into play, and oh boy am I taking advantage of it. I'm not sure if it makes me more or less homesick, but Leo's been video conferencing with me when we're both awake. I don't have a web cam, but he and Panda do.

Panda doesn't love the web cam. It sort of confuses her to hear my voice coming out of, seemingly, nowhere

But that just makes her get all snuggly with Leo for reassurance.

I miss being with them but am glad they are doing well.

Well, it's time for me to try to catch a little shut eye. Yesterday, that was unexpectedly challenging. There's a festival going on right now, and my room is right next to a temple where they were blaring religious music most of the day. Luckily, I have a couple pairs of earplugs to help dull the noise.

Today and tomorrow, we have off and then it's back to the grind.

I hope to have something more interesting than airports and hotel room views to show you next time.

International Dork of Mystery

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So after my internet session expired in Frankfurt, I decided I needed to up the dork factor while I passed the time.

Let's be honest, it's pretty darn dorky to be blogging, taking pictures of yourself blogging and listening to .wav files of your boyfriend and doggy back home.

But why not crank out the ol' ipod and listen to science podcasts while spinning on a drop spindle? Short of bringing along a TRS-80 and a butter churn, there are few things I could have done that would have been less cool.

Sorry guys, hands off, this girl is taken! When it started to get too crowded to comfortably spin, I reverted to knitting and listening to the Unger Report.

Finally, 1:45 rolled around and I boarded my flight to Mumbai. Since I was already 17 hours into my 22 hour travel itinerary, I wasn't expecting much of note for the last 5 hours. The plane was definitely rockin' the ol' school business class, but it was roomy and they kept us well fed, so who am I to complain, but I did find one things particularly blog worthy.

Do you see that woman's tray? Note that we are in business class, which means that anytime other than those when the plane is actively taking off or landing there are folks pushing free booze your way. And if, perchance, you happen to feel a thirst coming on during the 5 minutes that the beverage cart isn't at your side, any of the flight staff will gladly hand deliver the liquor of your choice. However, this woman must have feared they'd run out before they reached her again. She has not one, but TWO glasses of white wine and a glass of cognac on her tray. I'm not sure what the glass of water is doing there. Maybe she thought it was vodka.

I passed out for a fitful 3 hours of sleep after the meal and woke up in time for the next meal and a little tea. Now I'm in my temporary hotel room for a couple hours before heading back to the Mumbai airport to fly to my final destination.

The room is nice, though for 5 hours, probably more room than I need. Heck, I never thought I'd feel this way, but if the Mumbai airport had those chest of drawer style sleeping quarters that they have in Japan, I'd have been perfectly content with that. But hey, I’ll enjoy it while I’m here. Wanna see a shot of the pool from my room?

Don't you think that would make a banging night club? Did I just say "banging night club"?

Man, I need some sleep. I'm almost out of internet time, so I'll sign off for now. Presuming my hotel near the office has internet connection, I'll be posting more soon.

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